Franciscans working with the local community in Cotonou, Benin

A Human Rights-Based Approach to Extreme Poverty

FI adopts a human rights-based approach towards extreme poverty, convinced that extreme poverty is a human rights violation.  Governments have the responsibility to uphold the rights of people living in extreme poverty.

The majority of the world’s population is trapped in a vicious circle of poverty, inequality, landlessness, unemployment, environmental degradation, marginalisation and violence, which prevent it from enjoying basic civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. 
In 2012, the UN adopted a set of guiding principles that focus on the human rights of people living in poverty, in which the UN defined extreme poverty as a human rights violation, rather than the mere result of lack of income and financial means, and thereby designated government as first duty bearer, ie the one responsible for addressing the issue.

Franciscans International is committed to promoting a rights-based approach to extreme poverty primarily based on participation, empowerment, inclusion, transparency, equality and non-discrimination.  With its partner organization ATD Fourth World, FI has translated the UN Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights into an accessible and comprehensible tool: 


the handbook “Making Human Rights Work for People Living in Extreme Poverty.”  This is an important tool for social workers and activists working at community level to help people living in poverty. The handbook highlights the importance of participation in policy and decision-making, and emphasises empowerment, to promote the principle that individuals and communities can be agents of their own change.

To ensure that the handbook truly reflects the needs of the grassroots, FI carried out field tests and consultations around the world, from September to December 2014, in order to collect feedback and input for its first version. The handbook has been through eight field-tests – in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe.

The handbook and video were officially launched on September 21, 2015 at the UN. You can download your own English copy here.      (Spanish version>)